Margaret’s getting all dressed up to stay in. Permanently. She has the rosé, the pills, and all the loneliness she needs to do it. A little older and a lot less wiser, Margaret’s life didn’t happen while she was waiting for her life to happen. No husband in tweed jackets, no friends or family worth mentioning, Margaret’s checking out without the help of The Top Ten Tips For Domestic Suicide. In Nuala McKeever’s one woman show “In The Window,” McKeever delivers a Shirley Valentine styled confessional that will have you going out the door feeling that little bit lighter.
In a set up similar to Eoin Colfer’s My Real Life, McKeever delivers a one woman testimonial as she prepares to take her own life. For, with Margaret, seeing the wood for the trees has always been a problem. Yet the timely arrival of a young runaway Chris, who breaks into her house for a decidedly curious reason, sets the dominos falling in an entirely different direction. When a nosey friend and a friendly detective also come calling, it seems the universe might still have a plan for Margaret yet.
With its overly convenient conveniences, and its clunky structure, “In The Window” straddles some major dramaturgical no nos. Alternating between a confidential direct address to the audience that’s happening right now, then switching to McKeever enacting the story as if it was a past event, the whole feels curiously unbalanced, if not outright unsettling at times. Yet McKeever’s whirling dervish of a performance manages to pull it off somehow. Andrea Montgomery’s direction keeps pace trundling along, yet lights working overtime look amateurish for trying too hard; and McKeever doesn’t need the help. For McKeever is phenomenal, playing all characters. If her writing shows hints of Victoria Wood on her best day, her performance channels the entire cast of Dinnerladies. Switching effortlessly between signature accents and gestures at breakneck pace, McKeever dazzles by virtue of the sheer ferocity of her talent in a truly impressive performance.
Like the jazz standards it nostalgically references, “In The Window” overflows with a love of life, love, and living. If "In The Window" often feels like a showcase designed to highlight McKeever’s range, you are always utterly impressed by that range. Making “In The Window” a heartwarming joy.
“In The Window” by Nuala McKeever runs at The Viking Theatre until July 13.
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